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AMG plans greener, cleaner performance cars

Published: 08 October 2008

AMG is going green – the maker of unfeasibly fast Mercedes-Benz models is gearing up for hybrid and diesel versions, using advanced low-weight materials to retain their tyre-smoking performance credentials while satisfying the nagging greener conscience.

In an exclusive CAR interview, Aufrecht Melcher Großaspach boss Volker Mornhinweg spoke candidly about the company’s future and outlined why a raft of imminent eco measures would enhance AMG’s performance capabilities rather than stifle them.

‘Of course emissions and economy are important to us at AMG – only a fool would ignore these factors today,’ said Mornhinweg (pictured). ‘But we have the technology to improve economy and performance – and you’ll see it sooner than you think.’

Very interesting. Tell me more about the new AMG Mercedes

The new SL65 Black Series (670bhp and 738lb ft) will mark a turning point for AMG – it’s likely to be the last AMG car to feature such massive outputs. Even the upcoming Gullwing supercar – the first of AMG’s ground-up new models – develops a relatively modest 571bhp and 479lb ft.

‘Power is not a problem for us, so we’ll be focusing heavily on materials technology to lower weight and boost the power-to-weight ratios of our cars. And because they’ll be lighter, they’ll be more agile and engaging to drive.’

Mornhinweg singles out the SL65 Black Series. Only the doors are original – the rest of the composite bodywork is AMG’s work, and it’s a full 250kg lighter than the SL63.

Click ‘Next’ to read about hybrid AMGs

How will a hybrid AMG work?

The AMG boss says that by the end of the decade AMG will unveil a mild-hybrid petrol-electric model with start-stop technology, energy recuperation and on-demand functionality that will best the current 6.2-litre V8’s economy and emission figures by around 30 percent. Expect it to borrow heavily from the recently launched S400 BlueHybrid model – the most economical petrol-powered luxury saloon on the market.

‘Although hybrids normally mean more weight, we’ll use our knowledge of lightweight material to offset this increase. And don’t forget, AMG is all about torque, and electric engines develop their torque at standstill.’

What about – dare I ask – a diesel AMG?

‘Of course if we did a diesel it would have to be part of a business plan that really stacks up,’ says Mornhinweg. ‘But given the current price of fuel and America’s growing acceptance of diesel, I can see a single diesel model working for us.’

He kills the idea of a big torquey diesel in a large coupe – CL or next-gen CLS – dead in the water. ‘No, this is not what we’d do – I envisage more of a smaller responsive diesel in a smaller saloon.’

Perhaps a twin-turbo version of the current 3.0-litre V6 in the C-class?

‘That would work, yes!’ I ask about the SLK Vision concept car of 2005 and its trio of blowers – one either side of the V6 engine’s banks and one nestled in the vee. Mornhinweg just smiles knowingly.

‘For AMG the challenge will be finely balancing ecology and emotion – and this will take us down a new path of course.’

It’s a path that Mornhinweg hopes will boost AMG annual sales to 30,000 – but no more. But rest assured, wherever that new road leads AMG, it will be one covered very briskly.

By Ben Whitworth

Contributing editor, sartorial over-achiever, HANS device shirt collars